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Davis Cup Trivia - Build It and They Will Come!

By: William J. Kellogg
President, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club
Column #4 - January 18th, 2006

Build It and They Will Come! I always liked that line in "Field of Dreams" so I figured: why not do it in real life?! After the USTA accepted our bid for the 1st Round Davis Cup Match against Romania, we set out to build a brand new tennis court on our golf course, adjacent to the Duck Pond (a.k.a. the Wildlife Lagoon or Swan Lake). We started by marking out the required dimensions on the golf course and, much to our dismay, discovered that six palm trees were in the way - they would have ended up right in the middle of the stands.

I consulted with Jon Hatch, our Grounds Manager, and he turned out to be crazy too - he said "No problem. We'll just move them for the matches and return them after the matches are over. It's easy to do." As it turned out, he was right. Palm Trees have very small root-balls and there is a machine that can scoop them right out of the ground. They have now been transplanted and seem very happy about the whole thing. Go figure!

With that, we began grading, brought in 12 inches of gravel, compacted it and then installed an asphalt overlay over the gravel. This all happened in the space of three weeks. I have to tell you that I began sleeping much better once the court actually existed.

Now all we had to do was apply the playing surface to the asphalt base. This seems like an easy enough thing to do, except that we found out that the USTA wanted the surface to be exactly like the surface at the US Open in New York. Unfortunately, because of the extremely damp conditions in La Jolla, we had to use a different material to surface the court than they use in New York. This made it difficult to know how to apply the surface. How can you match the playing speed of a court on the other side of the country made out of a different material?

Again, the answer presented itself to us in the form of Patrick McEnroe, the Captain of the Davis Cup Team. He agreed to stop off in La Jolla, on his way from New York to the Australian Open, to do a personal test of the court. Of course, he picked Friday the 13th to do this, but I was encouraged, nevertheless.

This brought up the question: What do you do if the speed of the court turns out to be wrong? Well, I talked to my court construction company, C H Cortek, and they agreed to stand by and watch McEnroe test out the court. As it turns out, McEnroe felt the court was too slow. The Cortek workers immediately set to work after he stepped off the court, and only three hours later, McEnroe was able to retest the court. This time it turned out to be the correct speed and McEnroe continued on his way to Australia. Once again I was able to get a good night's sleep. See below for a picture of the court under construction - it's beautiful! Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

Now that we built the court, was anybody going to attend the matches? I'll tell you about that experience in my next column.

* William J. ("Bill") Kellogg is President of the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Inc. He also
chairs the United States Tennis Association's Davis Cup Committee and in this capacity fosters
community involvement when Ties are held in the United States. Kellogg currently serves on the
International Tennis Federation's Seniors Committee, serves as a Vice-President and Delegate
of the Southern California Tennis Association and is a past President of the San Diego District
Tennis Association and Youth Tennis San Diego.

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